Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Sad Girl on the Train


She had boarded the 7 two stops before the tunnel. A young woman – perhaps 25 or so – who looked ordinary to anyone without a discerning eye. In a mosaic-filled city of people of different races, colors, heights, smells and levels of cordiality, after awhile, one no longer saw each as the unique contributing to the whole.

I sensed an air of desperation surround her, like a heavy cloak that she was tired of carrying. It was evident in her crystal eyes as they darted about looking for friendly territory; a friendly face with whom she could sit and feel safe and at ease with. It was evident in the way she struggled to breathe as her chest heaved up and down and she – she – trying so hard to keep it under control.

But more than that, I sensed the palpable fear that people might notice that she was not at comfort; that she was edgy and nervous and perhaps distressed. I wondered if she boarded the train in hopes of losing this - whatever it was that she was carrying - and transport it to another place, hoping to also hide herself within this passengered cab, where many where busy planning lives and menus and having mental conversations with figments, to even notice that she existed. And I felt for her.

She eyed an empty seat next to a middle-aged woman dressed in jeans and a Navajo-patterned jacket. The woman wore her naturally blonde hair to the side in a thick braid tied by a leather brown string. On her face, no makeup. The only thing she wore was a smile that exuded an air of friendliness and approachability. The young woman hesitated before proceeding to sit. Why had she done this, I wondered?

She sat down. She unbuttoned her winter jacket and took off her scarf and gloves shoving them in her tote bag that was resting on the floor between her legs. She sat for awhile distracting herself by reading the advertisements on the train - I'm sure a futile attempt at stilling her overwrought mind - her legs jitterbugging the time away.

She then looked at the blonde-haired woman with the braid. Was she friendly? Would it appear odd if she struck a conversation? Would she have the nerve to initiate it? I imagined the young woman thinking these things. Finally, "Cold weather we’re having, huh?"

The blonde-haired woman reciprocated with a warm smile and responded, "Yes. Yes it is."

The train soon reached the mouth of the tunnel. I noticed the young woman's eyes flash a hint of panic that she tried to hide for fear of being found out no doubt. Her body screamed of fear, her hands taking refuge under her thighs while her body rocked, chest heaving under the weight of whatever she was carrying. Enclosed underground, I noticed her eyes close as if praying. The blonde-haired woman interrupting her thoughts, "Are you all right, Miss?"

The young woman turned to her, "What? Yes, I'm fine." She looked upset. Upset that someone had noticed her distress and she could no longer hide.

We reached our next stop in line. The doors of the train opened. The young woman stepped off dropping her scarf and gloves that had fallen from her tote in her desperation to flee.

As the doors closed I continued looking at her face. It was a face that carried the scars of a hard life within its young crevices. Away from prying eyes she at last crumpled on a bench, shedding the cloak that covered her distress. And it was then that I saw tears pour freely from her eyes. It was then that I saw the pain that lived within in its full rawness.

No, this was not something birthed from a fear of trains. This was something else; something deeper, something that affected the visceral. And this young woman - sad, distressed, and in deep emotional pain -had found a conduit on which to lay the blame. And I felt for her.

******

A story birthed from an observation gathered many years ago. I tried to place myself in her grief and wrote what I thought someone like her might be thinking.
Photo courtesy of Courtesy of Deviant Art

57 comments:

Tanya Gwen Minnick said...

Oh wow- this gave me chills- beautiful job on capturing her fears, her emotions, the dialogue that might have raced through her mind...I resonate with her more than I feel comfortable with...eek
very good post
hugs
t

Genie Sea said...

Oh my dearest Rebecca! How absolutely and brilliantly talented you are! You managed to make this woman real and for us to care about her in just a few paragraphs.

How's POD Part Deux going? Has he unzipped his mask of niceness and revealed his snarling self yet? Or is the transformation permanent? :)

Tumblewords: said...

She will stick with me for a long time. Chilling and well written!

ThomG said...

Good stuff, really. Nicely done. Your powers of observation are fantastic.

Sepiru Chris said...

Fine observations transmuted into descriptive prose. I was detached, but detached as the the observer in the story. Good work. Thanks.

CoyoteFe said...

OH, Rebecca-san -

I just love the rhythm and flow of your writing. You make my heart hurt, or leap or spoon, or ...

I want to find that girl, disintegrated in the past, and?

P.S. That rendition of Billy Jean is something. Great Playlist.

Lori Skoog said...

Rebecca, you dazzle me....

Candie Bracci said...

Yes,I've already experienced that too but you describe it so well,you can feel all the emotions there.You're a fantastic writer.

anthonynorth said...

A tightly written and intense story.
Excellent.

gautami tripathy said...

Loved the detailing. The stark emotions gets across!

dancing verses

M as in Mint said...

It felt like I was the one observing! Great job.


Scary Story

M as in Mint said...

It felt like I was the one observing! Great job.


Scary Story

Fledgling Poet said...

I wanted to know more about this vulnerable girl! You captured me with your story immediately...beautiful write.

Leni Qinan said...

WOW Rebecca!
I really love your writing!
Your description of the girl's feelings and emotions is just thrilling! And you say this story was born from a simple observation??? OMG, you almost took an X-ray of her soul! I am totally amazed at your empathy and ability to describe (and feel) what you see.
Has it ever happened to you that you can feel what your characters are feeling?
This was a wonderful post -I know, I sound like a scratched record, but I really like your writing!-

((abrazos, amiga))

Missy said...

WOW! Excellent writing! More!!

Rogue said...

Hello. I am new to your blog. I must say, I found this story interesting. It makes a good premise for a novel. Falling back in time to when she was happy and carefree. Slowly building into what she has become now. Well done. This begs to be pursued.

lissa said...

what a wonderful story, I thought perhaps she might want someone to say she'll be alright or something like that, the release of her tears certainly says something of her mood and her unhappiness disposition

Caroline said...

Wonderful! You are a very talented writer. Thanks for putting me on your sidebar too :)

CathM said...

Rebecca. Masterful writing! Great pace and detail in the piece. OooohhHhhh... I wonder what caused the character you describe such angst. When I lived in London, I used the Tube a lot, and I always wondered about the stories behind the faces of humanity. Especially when one was full with tears. Thanks for sharing this piece.

Paris said...

Wow...this gave me chills!! Great job!

rebecca said...

Hello Ms. T : Thank you, sweet heart. I think we can all empathize with her and connect with her because many of us have been there. Her sadness certainly left an impression on me.

rebecca said...

Genie!

Thank you! Oh, the POD. The POD!! I don't know, there's something seriously wrong with him. Two weeks in a row he's been pretty tame and seems to be behaving himself. Oh, how I miss him.... :) But the semester is young, we shall see LOL!

rebecca said...

Tumblewords: Thank you and she is doing to you what she did to me -- left a lifelong impression.

ThomG: I have to say that my observation skills is one of the things that most defines me. I think my boss keeps me around just for that! LOL! She's always asking for my take. Don't know, been that way all my life. I just notice and pick up on things many people miss. I have a quiet, observant nature that has not changed much over the years.

Sepiru Chris: Welcome and thank you! I am glad you enjoyed the story.

rebecca said...

Miss Fe,

Thank you, mama. My heart ached for her that day. She was so overwrought with emotions and you could see that she was trying so desperately to keep it under control. I often think of her. I hope she is living a good life now.

And, yeah, isn't that a great rendition of Billy Jean? I actually like it better than the Michael's.

rebecca said...

Miss Lori -

Thank you and ((hugs)) :)

rebecca said...

Candie -- Merci beaucoup, mon amie!

Anthony North: Thank you sir!

Guatami: Thank you as well Tami. Will be over this weekend to read your entry....

M as in Mint: Welcome and thank you! I will be over to read your entry this weekend as well and get acquainted with our blog...

Fledging Poet: Thank you and I wish I had more....perhaps a longer story can be birthed from this.

rebecca said...

Hola Leni!

Gracias amor! Yep, from observation alone. Riding in a train as one does in their everyday commuting and how one tends to at times look at people's faces and see what you can capture from their look, body language, etc. And, in this case, since she is the character of this story, yes, I can feel what she feels. I think the reason we connect so much with this story is that we can all see a part of ourselves there. We've all been there in that type of pain and anguish, but never publicly. It was sad. She was too overwrought to be able to contain it any longer. I hope wherever she is now, she is leading a wonderful and happy life.

((abrazos y besos))

rebecca said...

Missy: Welcome and thank you!

Rogue: Welcome and thank you. And, you know what? As a short story writer, you have given me a wonderful idea!

Lissa: Welcome and thank you. I think she was looking to loose herself in the comfort of the friendly faces around and if she wanted comforting of any other kind, it was not evident. It is very hard to approach a stranger and ask them this, no? Sometimes a smile or a noninvasive conversation is all anyone needs.

rebecca said...

Hi Caroline,

Thank you. And, your post this week was beautiful. It needed to be shared. :)

rebecca said...

Halloo Ms. Catherine!

I actually got this idea from you! From the girl in the cafe post you wrote about. That was brilliant and so I put my little mouse upstairs in check and told it to get crackin'! And this observation was one that left such an impression on me that I could recollect everything to this day. So, thank you, dear heart, for always being such an inspiration.

rebecca said...

Paris: Thank you! Glad you liked it....

Mama Shujaa said...

A fantastic piece Rebecca. You carried her in your heart with such tenderness for all this time, and now you've shared the weight of her heart with us all. Wonderful.

Mama Shujaa.

elliott610 said...

beautiful but chilling. I work in the surreal, with dark gothic fantasy. it's nice to read something down to earth and moving and the music is simply marvelous.
bill

CathM said...

Rebecca – I’m chuffed that one of my posts inspired the unearthing of this piece. It truly is a sterling piece. I really admire your writing skill and I think I’ll be studying your style more closely – to see if there’s anything I can borrow (lol).

Genie Sea said...

Rebecca! You will have an award on my blog, once I have finish posting the bible of a post today! Hugs! ♥

enchantedartist said...

I found this piece so incredibly touching. I'm a little apprehensive admitting this, but this girl reminded me a little bit of myself years and years ago.

Your beautifully captured observation has reminded me this morning of just how far I have come...

Thank you so much! :)

xo

b said...

This is so true in many ways. Laying the blame on that which cannot fight back, even another human, only delays what we must face at last.

Thank you for a lovely story.

b

floreta said...

i'm 25 and can relate to this a lot. my life has always been filled with constant streams of anxiety..

rebecca said...

Hi Mama Shujaa~

She was hard to forget. You know how certain things just leave an impression on you for life? Well, she tugged at my heartstrings that day and I wanted to so much to reach out to her to hug her and tell her that nothing ever is permanent and things change, but, of course, I couldn't. I hope wherever she is today, she is in a better place.

rebecca said...

Hi Elliott,

Thank you for that dear sir. And I will be visiting you this week. Loving your dark, gothic fantasy. And you're liking the music, huh? Good! Enjoy!

rebecca said...

Miss Catherine!

There goes that word again, "chuffed." I just LOVE that word! Chuff!

Well, thank you, Miss C for that wonderful comment. Coming from an excellent writer such as yourself, it means much.

And, as far as anybody borrowing anything, it is ME from YOU because your writings inspire and give me much to think about! Your writing rocks, Miss C. ROCKS!

((hugs))

rebecca said...

Genie my sweet, I will be over to pick it up this week. Thank you!!!! ((hugs))

rebecca said...

Hi Celeste,

How are you, dear heart? How is your yoga studio coming along?

Thank you for your comment. And the thing with this piece is that I think we can all connect with this girl. We've all been there. It is a universal human emotion. We all seem to be able to feel her pain.

((hugs))

rebecca said...

Hi Barbara,

Isn't that the way human nature tends to work? Looking for a thing/someone to lay the blame on when it is never about that or him/her. A form of coping mechanism when we are not yet ready to face the truth.

rebecca said...

Hi Floreta,

You're not alone. We can all relate as we have all been there. All part of our journey in this life.

((hugs))

Paris said...

Hope you had a good weekend, Rebecca. May you have a wonderful week! :)

rebecca said...

Aww, Paris, how sweet and thoughtful you are! You just made my night! My weekend was good-one lazy day, one productive day, so it was pretty balanced :)

And how was yours? Hope you did something just for you that lifted those spirits.

Again, sweet girl, thank you so much for making my night and have a wonderful week! I can't get over how thoughtful you are....

((hugs))

septembermom said...

Beautifully written! As a reader, you quickly share the narrator's curiosity and concern for this woman. Movingly portrayed.

The Real Mother Hen said...

Beautiful and powerful, as usual. You're really good. You'll be a famous writer/ playwright soon.

JP/deb said...

I loved how you drew me in ... I was the observer too, right there on the train with you ... watching & wondering. Excellent! JP/deb

SSQuo said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Stump is adorable, and so is your little Oreo! I once dogsat an Oreo too,he was such a cutie.

BTW, I LOVE Your music playlist. So here's the funny story, I was listening to Pandora right now and I have a station that plays all the oldies, but I was SO sure that I was listenign to my 'Pink - So what' stn right now. Suddenly I find myself listening and enjoying Frank Sinatra, and Fever etc. and I thought I was losing it! I kept closing down windows not knowign where it was coming from. You see colleague oppostie me listens to music too. This whole situation is pretty funny, and stupid!! Anyways, I THEN realized that your blog was open on a window and I did the 'close blog' 'am I still hearing it' trick - and it worked. And then I saw your playlist below. DUHhh!!:)

Sorry for the long story, but this situation took up three mins of my time here, so I just had to write about it.

Nice blog.

Ponderer said...

Your observation shows you believe everyone has a story behind their facade. Enjoyed this ! Cheryl

Diane Vogel Ferri said...

This is beautifully written and something we've all wondered looking at strangers near us - what is their story?

jmberrygirl said...

Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. Isn't Easy Street great?

Elizabeth said...

This is a fantastic write and it reminds of my own habit of people watching, not out of curiosity so much, but in the hopes of what stories they might reveal. It brought up a particular one form over twenty years ago, and a very distressed young woman sitting across from me in a waiting room.

Thank you,

Elizabeth

Jingle said...

the image says a lot about what you write, very caring and thoughtful piece.
thanks for sharing!


http://itistimetothinkformyself.blogspot.com/2010/08/between-u-and-me.html

here is my entry for journey…
thanks for the feedback!

Jenna said...

so raw and vivid and descriptive. I did feel like I was the one observing, and my heart broke for her as you wrote her anguish so well.